Email is a first world problem. I am not alone in receiving far too many emails during a twenty four hour period. Many of these emails are not urgent enough to require my immediate attention. Depending on the device and time of day, I receive a more or less important notifications but this is something I have lovingly crafted using a blend of widgets, Android application settings and Microsoft Outlook rules. Now, Acompli have just released their new combined email and calendar manager app, designed to make life easier when it comes to managing email workload and a diary. The app is designed to help make a mobile device more productive for the user who, perhaps, doesn’t want to get involved with the geeky stuff going on under the skin but instead wants to send, search and retrieve email whilst managing a busy diary. Acompli released an app for the iPhone earlier in the year and have have now released an improved version for Android, taking in some of the lessons they have learned over the spring and summer.
Acompli have been watching iPhone users who downloaded and engaged with the application and have determined that only one in ten of us have what they call “inbox zero,” that is, we manage our email workload by reading (or at least marking as read) as quickly as we are able to. I belong in this group. The other nine out of ten keep emails as unread in our inbox and over time this number is growing. Acompli studied what other apps (and presumably those in camp inbox zero) did to manage the email mountain and reached the conclusion that triaging, deferring, deleting or snoozing emails was not the answer, because instead of an inbox full of unread emails, you have folders of unread emails or a queue of unread emails waiting to be delivered. Acompli’s mission is “to help you do more and defer less,” and they “were compelled to help you find the emails that matter more quickly and then act on them, all from your phone.”
The new feature is called the Focused Inbox, which has made its debut this week in the Android version. The application shifts through your inbox to try to understand how you interact with your email and contacts to determine what is most important to you. When you install and open the app, by default you see two inbox modes; Focused and Other. The application learns over time; the more you use it, the better it gets (also with the more feedback you provide to Acompli). Their estimate is that your focused inbox will remove between 50% to 90% of your inbox, presumably depending on how disorganized and overrun your account is. However, in addition to the Focused Inbox, Acompli also makes it easier to work with your calendar and cloud storage applications with support for Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. This makes it easier to work with attachments to and from recipients even if you haven’t downloaded the application to your device.
Acompli is an interesting take on a first world problem, but the app isn’t without its faults. Firstly, landscape mode doesn’t work, which limits its utility on tablets. Secondly, it doesn’t use the Google Account settings and does not appear to obey AutoSync on your device. The way that I control my flow of email is I stop my account from receiving messages. Nevertheless, the idea behind Acompli is fantastic. Now, if they’ll add the ability to include social networks, I think they could be onto something big.